Sports can be seen as an escape for so many, but athletes at all levels are not immune from the struggles of mental health.
The Canadian Mental Health Association recognizes May 7 to 13 as Mental Health Week for 2018, and a number of local basketball groups are coming together in Abbotsford to raise awareness and funds for the cause.
The event features senior boys and girls basketball players from Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission showcasing their skills in an all-star game.
“We want to make it so that no person ever has to feel alone or helpless in the face of mental illness, ever again,” stated Dylan Kular of the ABA. “At our event we will bring together the community to learn more about mental health and discuss what we can do to help.”
The event opens with a basketball skills camp for youth in Grades 5 to 10 hosted by local trainers, the camp will also include an educational component on mental health. The skills camp is open to anyone from Grade 4 to 11 and it begins at 3:45 p.m., with the girls all-star game tipping off at 6:30 p.m. and the boys game at 8 p.m.
The girls game features a team consisting of: Sapna Deo (Yale), Chelsea Paivarinta (Yale), Jaya Bannerman (G.W. Graham), Sophie Klassen (Sardis), Josi Debruyn (Sardis), Nicola Peters (MEI), Jayden Gill (Bateman) and Tianna Chan (Hansen) taking on Annika Bojcuk-Dhaliwal (MEI), Maddy Draayers (Yale), Sarah Thiessen (Yale), Sydney Fraess (G.W. Graham), Julia Sprott (G.W. Graham), Madeline Beerwald (Mouat), Sydney Fetterly (Abbotsford Senior), Kayla Wilford (Bateman) and Sienna Lenz (Abbotsford Senior).
The boys game sees Team Watson – Bradley Braich (Yale), Reis Sekhon (Mouat), Baban Gill (Bateman), Dhivaan Bhogal (Mouat), Eli Young (Mission), Ethan Bartha (G.W. Graham) and Chris Khotawanich (MEI) against Team Alvin – James Kehler (Abbotsford Christian), Darius Yakmission (Bateman), Shawn Mann (Mission), Josh Mercado (Chilliwack), Gautam Dhaliwal (Hansen), Grason Watson (G.W. Graham), Harvir Garcha (Mouat) and Simran Gir (Abbotsford Senior).
“The event’s main purpose is to raise awareness on mental health and how athletes can manage it,” Kular added.
Admission to the event is $5 for students and $7 for adults. All proceeds from the game to the CMHA. A half-time show, contests and door prizes will also be handed out.
For more information, visit abbotsfordbasketball.com/bigger-than-basketball.